Chinese New Year, also known as the spring festival, is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.
Watch these videos showing Chinese New Year celebrations from previous years:
The British Council has some wonderful resources on their site including a video about Chinese New Year customs and an animation about the animals in the Chinese zodiac. They also have a fantastic pack to help schools celebrate the year of the Rooster!
Here are some suggestions for classroom activities. Our free resources are also available to download at the bottom of the page…
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Read books about China and prepare a non-fiction report to teach others what you have discovered.
- Write a letter describing Chinese New Year festivities.
- Read (or watch a video of) the story of the Chinese Zodiac, then retell the story.
- Write a news report, describing the race in the Zodiac story.
- Show the children some examples of chinese proverbs. What do they think the purpose of proverbs is? Can they invent any of their own?
- Read the children the story of Nian. Ask children to act it out in small groups. Make a comic strip version of the story.
- At Chinese New Year, children stay up late playing games, including dominoes. Explore the dominoes activities on the nrich site.
- Tangrams are ancient Chinese puzzles. Give the children a tangram template to cut out. Challenge them to make different shapes and pictures with the shapes (and put them onto a classroom display board) or try an online version.
- Use an art package to make a picture of bright fireworks on a dark background.
- Use an animation program to animate a simple dragon, dancing.
- Make a lucky money envelope using this great online resource.
- Make a simple Chinese dragon puppet:
- Paint two wooden sticks red.
- Tie a length of string between them and tie short lengths of coloured ribbon along the string.
- Add a face to one end, and you have a super dancing dragon.
- Cook some noodles and try eating them using chopsticks!
- Make lucky money envelopes from red paper and decorate them.
- Make a simple lantern from construction paper:
- Fold the paper in half, then from the fold line to the other side, without cutting all the way to the edge of the paper.
- Unfold the paper and staple the short ends of the paper together.
- Cut a strip of paper and staple it on to make a handle.
- Design a greeting card to send to someone celebrating Chinese New Year.
- Chinese calligraphy is beautiful. Find some examples for the children to look at, then let them try doing their own with fine brushes and black paint.
- Tell the children the story of the willow pattern plate and have a go at painting your own on paper plates with blue watercolour paint. Look at our related ideas.
- Paper cutting is a traditional art in China. Show the children some examples and provide red paper and scissors for them to produce their own.
- Could you try some Chinese paper folding (zhezhi), making hats or boats?
- Chinese music often uses the pentatonic scale C D E G A. Listen to some examples of traditional Chinese music. Give the children tuned percussion to explore, for example, xylophones or glockenspiels with the other keys removed. Can they compose a tune for a dragon dance? Add in drums and gongs to give a steady rhythm.
- Using Google Maps and Google Earth, show the children where China is in relation to where they live. Compare the size of China to their own country.
- Find out a few facts about China (area, population etc.) and create a table, comparing it to the country they live in.
- Show the children a video of a New Year Dragon dance. Can they make up their own dragon dance?
- Explain that Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival and is celebrated by millions of people living in China and across the world. It is a festival to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of Spring. Ask children to research the traditions of Spring Festival and produce a presentation about it.
- Read the story of the Chinese Zodiac. Ask the children to reflect on the personal qualities of the different animals. Talk about how the rooster, goat and monkey worked together to achieve their goal. When have you worked with others to achieve something you couldn’t have done on your own?